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HELP! Best town & lodging in Northern Spain?

HELP! Best town & lodging in Northern Spain?

Apr 17th, 2003, 07:17 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 16
HELP! Best town & lodging in Northern Spain?

Last minute guy needs help on driving itinerary for northern spain. Leon? Bilbao? La Rioja? Romantic beach towns? Toledo b-4 returning to Madrid? Is Madrid worth seeing?
tabernash is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 08:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Northern Spain is a HUGE area. Give us a clue. Where are you coming from and where are you going to and how much time do you have to get there?

Maria is offline  
Apr 17th, 2003, 08:36 PM
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Also, WHEN are you going? Next week? This summer? Are you planning on swimming at beaches? Maria
Maria is offline  
Apr 18th, 2003, 07:05 AM
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Thanks Maria. We fly to Madrid on 5/4and then leave via rent a car. We definately want to go to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim. We're not looking to swim, but like walking the beaches. Do we go to Bilbao and head east towards Barcelona where we can drop off the car and train back to Madrid? Or head west and work our way down to Leon and Toledo on the way back to Madrid. We're not so much sightseers, as in search of neat towns, nice lodging and good food. Thanks so much.
tabernash is offline  
Apr 18th, 2003, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I have not been to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Burgos or Barcelona in 30 years so I am no help to you heading East from Bilbao. But we were recently in the part of Northern Spain that was West of Bilbao and can tell you that it was fabulous beyond our dreams.

If you want to have a stop on your way north out of Madrid to Bilbao I would suggest stopping in an area just west of the N1 (as if you were going to Segovia off the N110) to see the wonderful and perfectly preserved medieval jewel town of Pedraza. We stayed in the Posada de Don Mariano which was great with an excellent formal dining room as well as a bodega style bar for drinks and tapas. Also in the area is the town of Sepulveda (NE of Pedraza) which has the incredible little Ermita de San Frutos which is set on a peninsula of the River Duraton which is the sight of some incredible canyons filled with huge vultures floating in the updrafts. This is in the Parque Natural del Rio Duraton and is worth an hour or so of your time as it is so amazing a place. Then you can continue N to Bilbao.

West of Bilbao I would suggest you travel along the coast to see some really beautiful little towns like Santillana del Mar (just W of Santander) and along the Asturian coast. Really beautiful fishing villages, beaches and with a backdrop of the Cantabrian Mountains inland. It doesn't get much better than this! You can continue to travel along the coast past San Vicente de la Barquera to Ribadesella or drop south to travel inland for some equally fabulous mountain vistas to eventually get to the Picos de Europa. We stayed on the West side in cangas de Onis and took day trips into the picos for wonderful hikes to the upland pasture areas of the mountain lakes of Enol and Ercina. Unbelievably beautiful and pastoral and mountainous and breathtaking. Lots of incredible (I am running out of adjectives!!!) hiking also along the River Cares and the gorges. The shrine of Covadonga and Basilica are certainly of interest also. You can also stay on theEast side of the picos near or in Fuente De.

Not knowing how much time you have, you can continue heading west for more fabulous coastal areas (Cudillero, Luarca, Ortiguera, etc...) and then if you make it as far west as Ribadeo do not miss the wonderful valley south and the village of Taramundi. Possibly one of the most beautiful places on earth.

If you do not have that kind of time, leave the Picos going south through the Desfiladero de los Beyos or from the East side throughPotes and the Puerto de San Glorio. You will really need a great map like Michelin for these routes! We enjoyed Leon immensely. The cathedral has the best stained glass in all of spain.

To get back to Madrid you could go through Zamora another gem of a town, and Salamanca and Avila. Another town worth a day is Segovia which we enjoed more than Toledo but others think the reverse. We love to stay in the parador system of Spain. If you don't know about that check out the website at and you can get an english version if you don't speak spanish.

Let me know if you need more info. We spent 2 weeks just touching high points in Castilla Leon, Galicia (even farther West) and Asturias but it was wonderful

Maria is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 05:12 AM
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Preliminary itinerary is:
Nite 1 Pedraza El Hotel de la Villa?

Nite 2 La Rioja for wineries. What town and hotel?

Nite 3 Guggenheim to Santilla del Mar Hotel?

Nite 4 Stay in this same region? Cool coastal town?

Nite 5 Cangas Parador Villanueva?

Nite 6 Stay in this region?

Nite 7 Leon Hotel?

Nite 8 Salamanca or Segovia? Hotel?

Nite 9 Madrid Nice hotel? What to do in Madrid?
tabernash is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 05:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Tough choice on those 2 S towns--I have just spent the past week in both. I would let geography dictate.
In Segovia--no question--the Infanta Isabel is the best location in town on the Plaza Mayor--also a Karen Brown rec.

In Salamanca, I just spent the last 3 nites in the Salamanca Palace. It is a new hotel--very modern--but only a block from the fabulous Plaza Mayor. Both are 3 stars--I paid about 70E single--I suspect 90 double.
Both are great--Segovia may be better on your route. GOOD LUCK !
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 08:20 AM
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Your narrative really brought back memories: It's the first time I found someone else who had visited the Gran Ca�on del Duraton -awesome!

I liked Pedraza and Sepulveda as well and, for a stop in La Rioja I would recommend Aranda de Duero (although I can't recommend any hotels there).

In the Picos de Europa the pass from Potes to Fuente D� doesn't open until early May. I ave stayed in Hostal Picos de Europa in Potes - it's really more of a hotel than a hostal. I was there for a Jubilee Year of Santo Toribio and a monastery where the largest known fragment of the Cross on which Christ was crucified is guarded.

You also skipped Laredo and Limpias, where Cristo de Limpias - a crucifix in the Church there is said to 'bleed;' Comillas with its imposing Universidad Pontifical and Gaudi's 'Caprichos.'

As you can tell, I love that area very much, too, as well as Pontevedra in the southern part of Galizia.

For Lodging in Santillana del mar I go with the newly renovated Parador de Gil Blas. I don't know if the Parador in Fuente D� will be open that early in May so, as a fallback I would recommend Hostal Picos de Europa & I don't think construction has been completed on the new Parador in Limpias.

NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 11
we were in Spain in October. Loved Alicante in southern part of Spain. We railed to Madrid for a couple of days-you gotta have a glass of wine in the plaza, mayor(spelling might be incorrect)
Toledo is history, history and more wonderful history! It also is breathtaking to look at! We stayed at the paradorm on top of the mountain. WOW! what a view
If possible, try to get to Barcelona also. We spent a week there and it still wasn't enough.
Going back in September to get to the other side of Spain,,,seville, etc.
phisy is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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Not to be missed in Madrid are the Prado and Sofia. And if you decide to go to Toledo, I highly recommend the Hostel del Cardenal which is built right into the old city walls (and has parking).
artlover is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 05:59 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Wow! You re really making progress on organizing your trip! Looks great to me but I would offer just a couple of things to think about which are based mostly on our preferences for travel and sightseeing.

We almost always try to stay 2 nights in one place rather than packing up and moving on and checking in almost every night. It just seems to be more relaxing for us and then we do daytrips to see things that are not right in the town we are staying. Your trip looks ambitious in terms of area covered, but not impossibly so. I would suggest thinking about covering 3 or 4 regions in your time frame and really enjoying those and not trying to do something everyday that involves too much driving.

For example, you are interested in Pedraza, Segovia and La Rioja which are all fairly close to eachother. Maybe think about spending 2 nights (nights 1 and 2)in Pedraza and doing a day trip to Segovia one day and a day trip to La Rioja the next while en route up North to Bilbao. So when you arrive in Madrid, grab a rental car and head immediately North to Sepulveda and see the Hoces del Duraton in daylight and then go to Pedraza for the night. Day 2 get up and head to Segovia for the day and return to Pedraza for 2nd night.

Day 3 head North to La Rioja and spend a few hours in Aranda del Duero and surroundings to see the wine country then drive straight to Santillana del Mar (the Parador de Gil Blas looks great on the internet!) to spend 2 nights (nights 3 and 4). The morning of day 4 head to Bilbao for a day trip and back to Santillana for another night.

Day 5 explore whatever of area around Santillana you want to see and then head West to cangas de Onis...parador de Villanueva is fabulous and so is the area in the Picos. Plan to spend 2 nights (nights 5 and 6)in Cangas enough to explore the Picos for one full day (Day 6) including Covadonga and possibly the Garganta Divina.

Day 7 head to Leon through the Desfiladero de Los Beyos for 2 nights (7 and 8) in the Parador de San Marcos which is definitely one of the jewels of the parador system.

On Day 9 head back to Madrid from Leon with a stop in EITHER Zamora, Salamanca or Avila and then just hit an airport hotel for night 9. You won't have time for Madrid on this itinerary but you will see some fabulous territory including Castilla Leon, the Guggenheim, wonderful coastal fishing villages of Cantabria and Asturias, the mountains of the Picos de Europa and an incredible slice of the history of Spain in Segovia and Leon to mention just 2.

f you can afford the parador system it is not to be missed. Yhere are some wonderful specials to be had via the internet or by calling their central reservations number. The 5 Nights special, as well as the Half Board (Media Pension) are incredible savings to stay in unbelievable surroundings and enjoy the most wonderful food Spain has to offer.

Good Luck. I look forward to hearing about your trip when you return.

Maria is offline  
Apr 20th, 2003, 07:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 206
Pedraza: Beautiful town but when we spent the night there, the entrire town was closed up and desolate 7:30. Don't know if this usual or not. Stayed at the Hotel de Ville. I'd try the Mariano next time.

Sepulveda: Juan Carlos eats his lamb at El Figon de Tinin el Mayor, an old restaurant right on the main street under the covered walkway. Absolutely fantastic. They serve only one dish, leg of lamb, and it comes with salad, bread, and a jug of wine. One price. Don't miss it.

Santillana del Mar. Great moderately priced, small hotel: Siglo XVIII. Very nice people, a couple of blocks away from the crowds, it is built like a residence rather than a hotel. Very comfortable a chance to moderate the prices of the Parador.

Cangas de Onis: Try Mi Abuelo restaurant On the corner downtown. Great place to meet and see locals.

Llanes: I have never stayed there but I think it is a very neat town with great food options. People were very warm as well.

Luarco: Another I haven't stayed at but truly a beautiful place that I will stay in for a few days on next trip.
lweber is offline  
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